SPC President’s Message

Hello Students & Postdocs! I hope you all had a safe, healthy, and (dare we hope) rejuvenating winter break, and that the transition back to school/work hasn’t been too jarring!

Before we get into the fun epi stuff, I want to take a minute to talk about self-care and mental health. For many of us, our graduate and early career training is one of the most stressful things we have ever done. It encompasses education, job security, and our passions, all in one awesome but messy emotional jumble. It often includes moves to new places where we know no one, and complicated power dynamics. Graduate training is hard! And it’s all on top of any other BIG LIFE STUFF we have going on. While it’s not part of official grad school curriculums, I fiercely believe that EVERYONE can benefit from working with a therapist or counselor to help them survive and thrive in graduate school and beyond. Even things that seem super common or not that big a deal – like procrastinating writing, or dreading talking to your advisor, or changes in eating and sleeping habits – these are things that a mental health professional can help you understand and manage. I urge you all to not wait until things are critical and scary to reach out (though of course you should reach out then too!). Taking care of your mental health is a skill just like any other. It takes training and practice. And just like learning any other skill, it’s best not left until the last minute. Most universities have a mental health center available on campus, often at reduced or no cost. They may or may not be able to see you long-term, but they should be able to get you started and set up with care. Other options for getting started with mental health care are your primary care doctor, your employee assistance program (EAP) through work, your insurance provider, or searching online for an in-person or virtual practice.

Ok, back to epi. As usual, there is loads of fun stuff coming up. The biggest is the SER Mid-Year Meeting (https://epiresearch.org/mid-year-meeting/). New this year, there are two different venues for the Mid-Year Meeting – the first week of March is in Berkeley, California, USA, and the third week of March is in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico and will be presented in Spanish. And the best part is everything is available virtually, and most of it FOR FREE. This is a great way to soak up all the epi goodness SER has to offer without the scramble to find funds and time to travel to the Annual Meeting in June. As part of the Mid-Year, SPC has two different events available to students and postdocs, including master-level students. However, they require registration head of time. Be sure to check out the website to learn more and to get your name on the list.

For those of you looking ahead to the Annual Meeting in June, a new travel award just dropped. Applications for Susser-Stein Inclusion Awards (https://epiresearch.org/annual-meeting/awards/susser-stein-inclusion-awards/) are due March 10.

We’re winding down now….be sure to check out the SER Calendar (https://epiresearch.org/ser-calendar/) for all the other events coming up in the next couple months. There are THREE SERexperts in February – about Long COVID, food insecurity, and diversity and inclusion. Then it’s the Mid-Year in March. And then two more SERexperts and an SERjournal Club in April.

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for your SPC leaders (https://epiresearch.org/students-and-postdocs-2/spc-officers/), please please please reach out to us! We’d love to hear from you.

Sharia M Ahmed
SPC President